The Imposter Syndrome Network Podcast

Brian Freedman

March 07, 2023 Chris & Zoë Season 1 Episode 32
The Imposter Syndrome Network Podcast
Brian Freedman
Show Notes Transcript

Our guest today is Brian Freedman, Global Solutions Engineering Manager at QOMPLX.

As a person who worked both on small start-ups to big companies, Brian will share with us his thoughts on the differences and similarities between them.

We talk about what a day in his life looks like working on QOMPLX and how he relaxes by doing what most people would consider a stressful activity, racing bikes.

Brian shares what he looks for in a good candidate in an interview, how he measures success, and the value of having female managers in cybersecurity.

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Don’t be the person that says “I can't do something”, if you want to do something, go for it.
You might be rejected at the end of the day. but never be the person that tells yourself “No”.
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[00:00:00] Chris: Hello and welcome to the Imposter Syndrome Network Podcast where everyone belongs, especially if you think you don't. My name is Chris Grundemann and I'm here with my very fabulous co-host, Zoe Rose. Hello. This is the Brian Friedman episode and it's gonna be great. Brian is both an IT security engineer and a business leader.

[00:00:31] Chris: Hey Brian, would you mind introducing yourself a bit further to the imposter syndrome network? 

[00:00:35] Brian: Yeah, happy to. So Brian Friedman here. I work for a company called QOMPLX. Uh, we really are focused on identity security. You know, looking at, you know, where I came from and I had these conversations. Prior that I was working in the EDR space and before that I was building out SOCs for the federal government.

[00:00:53] Brian: And before that I was a, you know, lowly SOC analyst and I think I started off my career as a Linux admin back in the day. I was really kind of looking forward to enjoying this conversation with you guys. 

[00:01:03] Chris: Perfect. Thanks. Today I actually wanna start with something a little different. We'll get into your career in InfoSec in a minute.

[00:01:10] Chris: Yeah. But first I have to ask, because I heard you race motorcycle. And so I just wanna know if you are a crazy person. 

[00:01:18] Brian: Uh, not a crazy person, but my wife looking at the checking account often thinks I am , , but you know, when I'm, uh, not working, I really think it's important to disconnect, get away from a screen, and really kind of do something with your hands or really help you put in a different mindset than you would be at work.

[00:01:34] Brian: Uh, so being able to be free and live on the edge a little bit, live with the adrenaline junkie in me, uh, and I love doing it. working with my hands, building engines, building bikes. Uh, it's a fun way for me to decompress and relax. 

[00:01:45] Chris: That's awesome. Yeah. So I actually ride motorcycles as well, so not to be disparaging.

[00:01:49] Chris: I, I was joking. I've never raced, uh, motorcycles though, which does sound pretty intense and kind of awesome and I, that resonates with me a lot. Right. The, the mechanic side of it. Mm-hmm. , I've, that was kind of the thing I had with my dad was we've always worked on cars together, and I definitely do it less now than I would.

[00:02:06] Chris: But getting out in the garage and actually like, you know, physically working on a machine is a really cool, I find, you know, just different mindset from the kind of day-to-day working on a network, working on security, working on storage, whatever you're doing on it. It's all through a computer and a keyboard and actually kind of solving problems with.

[00:02:22] Chris: Wrenches and hammers is, uh, is a cool diversion. It kind of still works the same part of your brain a little bit, but, but gets more physical. So I don't know. I That sounds like that's your experience as well. 

[00:02:31] Brian: Yeah. You, you're, you're all just chasing a high, you know, I want my code to compile my script to work, or I just want my engine to turn on.

[00:02:37] Brian: Right. It's all the same high. You're problem solving. Uh, but it's just different ways in different ways and things, and it's fine. It's like I asked what kind of bike do you have though, Chris?

[00:02:45] Chris: Yeah, so I've got a, like seven, it was a basket case, but it's mostly a seventies Sportster. An Ironhead Sportster that me and my dad actually built from, from parts.

[00:02:54] Chris: So yeah. Pretty cool. 

[00:02:57] Brian: That's really cool. 

[00:02:58] Zoe: I don't even own a car. . 

[00:03:01] Brian: Well, what type of bus do you ride? . 

[00:03:03] Zoe: I have a bicycle. 

[00:03:04] Brian: Oh, I love bikes. Do. Yeah. 

[00:03:06] Zoe: Coral. Okay. It's a children's bicycle. . 

[00:03:10] Brian: Does it have castles and a pinwheel on it? ? 

[00:03:12] Zoe: It doesn't. I'm actually quite disappointed, but I do, I do race it with the other six year olds because Dutch children are very, very good at, uh, by, uh, cycling.

[00:03:23] Zoe: But anyway. 

[00:03:24] Chris: Oh yeah. In the Netherlands, I bet. Yeah. Riding a bike is kind of like racing a motorcycle in other places, maybe.

[00:03:29] Brian: I am very jealous of your guys. Bicycling an infrastructure over there. I love biking places and, uh, cycling's another passion of mine. But, you know, being able just to go anywhere on a bike is great.

[00:03:39] Zoe: I'm saying I raced the six year olds because I'm really rubbish at it, but I'll pretend I'm good at it. Um, it is one of the places that like, I'm scared to get caught in the bike lane cuz I'm scared of getting run over. I'm not scared of the cars, I'm scared of the cyclists . But, um, no, that's a really good point.

[00:03:56] Zoe: I, I, I do the same is when it comes to decompressing. Because you, you focus so much, so heavily in the mental space when it comes to technology, so it's nice to get away from the keyboard for sure. One question that I had was kind of a, you, you've told us basically what your company does or what you do at the company, but is there a kind of a description of what you would do in a typical day to understand kind of where the context is or where you're set?

[00:04:25] Brian: Oh, in, in a typical day, it's all over the place. I think there's a couple kind of factors you need to take into, into account. kinda given where I sit in the org and what do I do and kind of what a typical day would look like for me. QOMPLX is a growing company, very much still in startup mode as we are growing new to market maturing.

[00:04:41] Brian: So when you do that, you have a, a role that wears many, many hats, you know, from the managerial aspects of people management, managing remote teams, and the difficulties that come with that. Along with, you know, what you do from the technical side to solving customers problems, uh, engaging with them, supporting sales and those types of items.

[00:04:57] Brian: So any given day, I'm working on building out partnership relationships. I'm working on team management items. I'm working on solving technical problems, doing sales items, helping, you know, customers achieve technical end. And I think those are kind of major categories of kind of what I focus on. The other part I always like to make sure I I do, do is really focus on evangelism.

[00:05:17] Brian: You know, speaking on LinkedIn or attending conferences or really making sure, I'm also actively learning in my space, in my vertical, but also staying aware of kind of what's going on and trending across industry. So even if it's just perusing LinkedIn, cause you know people are gonna self-talk about themselves all the time.

[00:05:31] Brian: At least you kind of keep track of what is going on in the space in the industry and what other people are talking about, which is good information overall. I have, 

[00:05:39] Zoe: I like that point of. Being allowed to be on social media as part of your job. Mm-hmm. , I I, I've had a few bosses that, uh, looked very badly down on me when I was on social media, cuz it was like, oh, well you're just on social media.

[00:05:53] Zoe: But no, I I I think it's actually quite key part of a technical career, understanding other people. 

[00:05:59] Brian: Well, I mean, newspapers is like the same thing, right? It's, here's my summary of stuff that leads converted to a newsfeed to Twitter to. LinkedIn and, and I, I'll be honest, even the new forms like TikTok, you know, barring cybersecurity concerns, which I certainly understand it, it has made, uh, you know, advanced topics very, very consumable for a younger audience.

[00:06:18] Brian: And I actually, I'm very, very pro TikTok when it comes to that aspect of them. 

[00:06:23] Zoe: Yeah, I've seen some really good talks talking about security specifically, like mm-hmm. , even HandsOn, like technical, technical stuff. It's really cool. 

[00:06:31] Chris: Yeah. We spoke to Grant Colgan, who is, uh, a pretty big InfoSec TikToker uh, not too long ago, which is pretty cool.

[00:06:38] Chris: So I, I think we've got a, you know, a decent handle of kind of what you're doing at Complex, and, and I, I think one thing that's interesting to me is that point about this is a small company and so we're all wearing multiple hat. Have you always worked at small companies or is this a new thing for you, or, or do you have a preference, kind of big versus small?

[00:06:55] Brian: No, I, I've worked for a couple big companies, so I've worked for companies like Hewlett Packard Enterprise, you know, fortune 10 I think at the time. Right. So very, very big Behe I've worked for, um, general Dynamics I've worked for, that's probably my two biggest companies I'd probably say I've worked for, but I've also worked for some nonprofits.

[00:07:14] Brian: So, uh, I used to work for the college board, so the company that manage. SATs in the United States and college admissions processes there. Uh, I've also worked for a company called Cylance and I joined them a little bit later. Uh, so I'd probably say they were on the latter stage of, you know, startup. Cause they were good size around 800 employees back then.

[00:07:32] Brian: So it was nice there. So it was a little bit more comfortable. Uh, this is probably the smallest company I worked for. It's been fine. I, I actually like it a lot. I think I'm more, uh, I prefer the, um, startup atmosphere. But I definitely think there's a lot of value in people, especially as you're kind of going into peer to have strong considerations for, uh, larger enterprises.

[00:07:51] Brian: You'd certainly get a lot of support, a lot of knowledge, a lot of training, a lot of processes are baked into the education there. The startups tend to be a lot of trial by fire and they throw a bunch of things in sink or swim style, right? They just don't have time to put money or investment in people so much.

[00:08:05] Brian: And if that's your preferred learning preference, that's great, and you certainly go for it. If I wouldn't discredit people spending time in, you know, big enterprise or big tech. . Um, because there's a lot of ways you can learn in those spaces too before you may choose to go try out in, in a startup or some kind.

[00:08:19] Zoe: Well, that's a really good point. I, I find for me, I learn faster in startups because it is that trial by fire, but mm-hmm. in bigger organizations, I find that it's, you have a bigger budget for training, but you have to deal with the soft skills more heavily. You know, cuz you have to deal with politics and you have to deal with people and that's the hardest.

[00:08:38] Zoe: So I find that actually big organizations more challenging for me than the smaller ones.

[00:08:43] Brian: Well, the people skills and the soft skills alone are, are a huge breaker or make or break for a lot of people. And kind of success and failure around kind of moving up in the organization, kind of the direction where people want take careers.

[00:08:54] Brian: You know, people with uh, weaker soft skills may choose, you know, their preference and desires to go more, but more technical mastery role, uh, which I wouldn't say is limiting, but you know, it's, uh, very hardcore to do that. Right. But there's also. A few really good soft skills. You know, looking at evaluating careers around sales or people management, technical evangelism are all great things to do as well.

[00:09:15] Brian: Still remaining technical on the back end. 

[00:09:17] Chris: Yeah. Now, speaking of learning and maybe the flip side of learning, which is teaching, I believe you're an adjunct professor at, uh, George Mason University, which is where you also got your, your BS and your MS in cybersecurity. Is that, Correct. And can you tell us a little bit about being an adjunct?

[00:09:33] Chris: I dunno what adjunct means, but professor sounds impressive. Why don't you tell us what that is? What's, what's going on there?

[00:09:37] Brian: Yeah, so an adjunct is, I guess a, a part-time professor. What George Mason does is, is pretty cool and I, I like this a lot, is that they, uh, bring in people who have worked in industry, uh, for a number of years and have them come back and, and teach.

[00:09:52] Brian: The nice part about this is one you're teaching the, the curriculum that they've designed it, but together, but you're also to allowed and encouraged to overlay. Your professional experience on top of that? So, um, right now I teach a course around, uh, cyber security program management considerations you make for building out these bigger IT projects, managing teams, managing people, bringing together a deliverables, whether it's physical or digital or software or app, or you know, whatever it might be.

[00:10:17] Brian: You know, what should you care about, what do you need to manage, what do you need to know? And things I've kind of learned from my past experience I'm able to give to students, which I think is really, really valuable. Having that context. I remember about kind when I was in undergrad. I never really felt like I kind of got that, I kind of felt like what I would see during interviews was like way ahead of what I would learn, you know, this past semester at college, which I didn't like that gap, I always kind of felt like I was trying to catch up to kind of be current of my peers of, you know, who were already in the space.

[00:10:45] Brian: So I, I liked that kind of, they've adopted that sort of program, part of them. 

[00:10:49] Zoe: Yeah, that's a really good point. It's the, it's the hands-on experience and being able, Show real world examples and have real world examples in the training, I think that would make a difference for the students On that same kind of strand, Chris mentioned that you have a bachelor's and a masters, and then I also see you have a cissp as well.

[00:11:10] Zoe: I believe so. We ask people quite a bit about their kind of mindset when it comes to certifications and more traditional training. So I'd be interested in how you feel like that's benefited you or maybe didn't, or what's your perspective on both the traditional training as in the master's and bachelor's as well as certifications.

[00:11:31] Brian: So I think I've probably gonna ruffle a few feathers of opinion. . I always felt kind of like a lot of those things were just really simply receiving the receipt. I, I, I know I'm fairly well accredited with a, a Bachelor's of Master's in CISSP, but I don't feel like that has improved me as a practitioner all that much to have that knowledge to kind of gone through those courses.

[00:11:51] Brian: I feel like there's a special nuance to being able to apply knowledge, which really as an interview, when I'm hiring people, I'm, I'm seeking see that capability. I think when you look at kind of those education levels, you're really looking at a baseline of knowledge or a common talking for next, which I feel like you don't need to attend a traditional four year university or a master's program or CISSP, right?

[00:12:11] Brian: It's just to have common language at the core of it. So I, I never like to say that I require those types of things, or I think people should have them. . Now, on the flip side, there certainly are valuable and there's a lot of careers, a lot of companies, a lot of organizations that are going to have minimum requirements of education to take on those types of jobs.

[00:12:27] Brian: You know, especially if you're looking at anything government or federally related, like they, I need of a minimum four year degree or certain certifications to be able to work in it. Now there has kind of been trends in courses out there. Uh, they've been really great around application and knowledge. So you look kinda like a lot of stuff from uh, GSAC.

[00:12:45] Brian: Over the wire are some really great things about applying knowledge and learning how things are, how things work together, which I like doing on my own. I like seeing some of those things, but personally have come that love hate relationship when it comes to credentials and certifications, et cetera.

[00:12:58] Chris: Yeah, I mean, they can be a, as you stated, right? I think they can be, or they at least they are used often as proxies. It's almost like, like a lot of human things, right? It's, it's a laziness hack where I don't, you know, have the time to get to know every single candidate. So I'm just gonna say, if you, you know, struggled through eight years of college, you probably have some staying power and ability to learn.

[00:13:19] Chris: If you, you know, took the time to go learn enough, you know, concepts to pass a, a CISSP, you probably have a decent handle on, on cybersecurity. And so it's almost like a proxy. It's saying, okay, instead of digging in and, and having, you know, eight hour conversations with every single person, I, I'm just gonna kind of check some boxes and then move on.

[00:13:36] Chris: But that ends up kind of having this adverse effect, which is a gatekeeping effect potentially. So I think it's, you know, it's refreshing to hear that when you're hiring, you're not strict on those things. What do you look for when you're hiring? I mean, how, how do you, how do you weed things out if you're not using those kind of receipts as you call 'em?

[00:13:51] Chris: Which I think is a really good way to look at them. Uh, what are you looking for? 

[00:13:54] Brian: So, a lot of soft skills during, um, kind of the interview process. I look at follow up, you know, are they engaging me with saying thank you LinkedIn looking, I'm actually actively looking to see if they are looking at my profiles.

[00:14:05] Brian: Prior to the interview, I asked some questions about my own company. You know, what you learn, what do you have questions on? I'm looking for a desire to learn more. If a candidate comes on, I say, well, what questions do you have for me? He goes, oh no, you're fine. I think you explained things really well. I'm like, okay.

[00:14:18] Brian: He doesn't really care. Hasn't really looked into me or looked into kind of what we do. Cause I know we do some complicated stuff and naturally have questions. How's this work? How's this function? What kind of integrations are available? A whole slew of things, right? A number of different ways people's minds can go.

[00:14:31] Brian: But I look for the desire to investigate that desire to look. Desire to learn more. I also like doing it. I try to do more of it active, um, presentations too. They present a topic on me. How do you think, how do you investigate? And I'm gonna question them. I wanna see how they respond. I look for kind of that problem solving on their feet, uh, type of reaction.

[00:14:49] Brian: If I kind evaluate people. It's not so hard coded. You know, some people like to be very kind of, I feel, based on kind of how I assess it personally, but I think that's kind of a really good way to kind of see how people react on their toes and respond to question. Somebody throw things to left field and see how they're, and I certainly don't claim to be an expert in every technology, so I may just wanna learn more, but they're really good explaining it to me.

[00:15:08] Brian: I think they'll be good explaining my tech as well. 

[00:15:10] Chris: Awesome. That resonates with me a lot. I once had, I was hiring an intern and I actually had, uh, twin brothers both apply for the internship mm-hmm. position, which I only had one spot. And not only were they twin brothers, uh, but these guys were, I'll say a little odd, maybe this is, maybe, maybe some twins will write in and tell me this isn't odd at all.

[00:15:29] Chris: But they literally had taken all the same classes. and had had all the same internships up to that point. And so like identical resumes, identical, you know, faces and bodies. Uh, I mean like, like really, like, okay, how do you, how do you choose one? And I'm, I'm actually really glad that happened to me early in my, you know, managerial career because, you know, I, I had to figure out how to make this choice and what it came down to for me in that instance.

[00:15:52] Chris: And then I've used this. Since then was, was just passion. Right? Which one did I feel like really actually wanted to do this work? Mm-hmm. , you know, more than the other one. And, and then there was actually a pretty, that was one big, it was pretty big distinction, right? One of 'em was kind of there, he seemed like he was phoning it in a little bit.

[00:16:06] Chris: The other guy seemed really passionate about what we were doing and what we were trying to do. And so it made that choice doable. And since then it's made a lot of hiring choices a lot easier for me. I dunno if that resonates with you at all.

[00:16:18] Brian: It, it does. You know, there's a lot of like practical knowledge.

[00:16:20] Brian: You really want people to search and dig for it, you know? I. When I kinda think about education certifications, search and interviewing, like there's a, a great scene from that old Rodney Dangerfield movie back to school where he is in the classroom of being kind of questions like, you need to build a factory.

[00:16:34] Brian: How do you go about it? And the professor has the book answer of You apply for permits, you get zoning approved, blah, blah, blah. And Rodney goes, no, this is not right at all. You actually need to grease the politicians. I need to, you know, get the garbage guy on my side. I need to get these guys to ignore me.

[00:16:47] Brian: I gotta scrub this guy. I gotta get this guy paid off. And that's all real type stuff. You know, when I was pursuing my master's degree, I ran into a lot of cases where it was just simply career student who would give book answers. But I'm like, no one follows policy entirely. People are going to fight me on password changes.

[00:17:03] Brian: I know there's definitely gonna be a C level that's gonna tell me I don't wanna change my password. I have to force that type of thing. Right. And I think kind of being aware of these things and being able to solve those problems, you know, kind as you said too, right? Having that passion is, is really kinda important to have any part of any hiring process or, you know, considering team members or.

[00:17:19] Brian: On the flip side too, if you're in an interviewer looking at jobs, seeing how your manager or potential manager would be interacting with you, what kind of questions are they asking about you? How are they evaluating you? Are they seen distant? You know, I've had some bad interview experiences where I had a manager.

[00:17:33] Brian: Or a person that we partnered with, uh, they were literally reading, reading me questions from a, a website of like, how does your family view you? How does you know this, like, generic stuff that was like hallmarky. And I was like, I don't wanna be tied to this person, right? If they can't be so enough or passionate enough to interview me in a real way, you know, why would I want to kind of tie, you know, my career to this type of person?

[00:17:52] Brian: So, Um, a lot of things to kind of consider from, you know, both sides of the manager or as a, you know, a younger person or a candidate kind of coming up and evaluating company.

[00:18:00] Zoe: Yeah, I definitely relate to a couple of the things. I do disagree in some things only because I'm me and I like to disagree, but like the, the point about the passion I do.

[00:18:10] Zoe: When I interview people and I look for potential hire, I do the same sense where I value personally. I value people skills higher than technical. There is a point you need a certain amount of technical, and depending on the role, there are certain requirements they must meet. But I I, I also look at the, well, how does this person interact, interact with me?

[00:18:29] Zoe: The type of questions they ask, I'm looking at how they think, like how their logic flows go. But one thing that I specifically do is I. I don't say, well, they have to ask me questions because I know the type of person I am is If I don't think there's a valuable question, I'm not gonna ask one. I just am not.

[00:18:48] Zoe: And so I'm trying to think of in my team, what skills do I already have? What type of workers do I already have, and who am I looking for to fill it? So for example, I might have a very technical person, the next person in, I probably wouldn't want somebody that's super, super technical, super focused on the technical.

[00:19:06] Zoe: I might want somebody more focused on the people. So it's, it's not just when I'm hiring, it's not just they have to follow it, this kind of logic flow, or they have to ask these questions or ask a question even. It's more what type of person are they and how are they gonna balance my team out? Whilst also obviously looking at do they have the skills or can I train them to have the skills?

[00:19:28] Zoe: But I really like the point about wanting to learn because I think in a technical career it is something you need, you have to want to go further because this, it changes so much, you know? So I definitely relate to you both on that one. I suppose you can call it passion. Yeah. I typically like to call it passion, but I know that some people read that in as I expect them to be.

[00:19:52] Zoe: Overcommitted to work, and I don't expect that I d At the end of the day, I expect the person to go home. I don't expect them to stay hours just because, so that's why I tend to. Starting to reassess if the word passion is the right word. One. Cause the way I take it. Yeah. Curiosity. I love that. Yes.

[00:20:09] Zoe: Definitely a curious person. A hundred percent. 

[00:20:12] Brian: You need a natural curiosity. Yeah. Yeah. 

[00:20:15] Chris: And you have to want to do the job. I think like I like, I've seen a lot of people in roles where they didn't like, they were totally qualified. They didn't really want to do the work we were asking them to do. And no matter how great they're, they can be geniuses and the product is terrible if they don't really feel like they wanna do it.

[00:20:30] Chris: Right. So that's what I mean by passion. I don't know, like, do you, like, do you wanna do this? 

[00:20:33] Zoe: Yeah, that's a good point.

[00:20:34] Brian: It's buy into the company, you know, goals and directives and. Where their kind of thesis is for where they wanna take the organization. If you don't agree with that, you think it's rather, you know, don't phone it in for something that you care about.

[00:20:44] Brian: Right. It's, it's unenjoyable for you as an employee. It's also not a great outcome for, uh, your employer. Right. But find something you're passionate about. Cause then it makes going to work and working a lot more fun. 

[00:20:53] Zoe: That's a really good point. Yeah. And it's long term as well. I don't wanna hire somebody for six months.

[00:20:57] Zoe: I want somebody that's gonna enjoy the job and stay, because ultimately that's the goal. So those are really good points there. And I think. What all of all of us have kind of touched on is it's not looking for a specific type of person, you know, it's not this exact person or these exact skills. It's I want them to want the role.

[00:21:18] Zoe: I want them to learn and grow in the role, and I think that encourages diversity in teams much more effectively, or at least from my personal experience. Which is me trying to create a segue into, um, one thing you mentioned earlier, Brian, before we were recording, was your history of managers and how historically you've had female managers, which is quite unique, I would say.

[00:21:44] Brian: Yeah. Uh, all the way up until, uh, this career I've, I've almost exclusively had female managers, uh, my entire professional career. You know, in, in tech and especially in cybersecurity, has been, uh, it, it doesn't happen. So I feel like a little bit of a, a snowflake, a little out there, an outlier with that type of fact here for me.

[00:22:03] Brian: Uh, but I, I gotta say, it's, it's been a wonderful, wonderful experience. Some great people, and I think it's kinda really helped me grow into kind of the person I am today, having those people supporting me.

[00:22:11] Chris: What is it about a, I mean, it sounds like as a group, I mean obviously, you know, each of these people was individual, so I don't wanna overgeneralize too much, but it sounds like you've really enjoyed having female managers.

[00:22:22] Chris: You've had had some male managers as well. Obviously you are a male manager. What do you see as like, the differences or, you know, why, why do you make that statement? Like what, what was, what was great about working for a woman versus, you know, what you've had experience working for a man, maybe, or, or maybe not even the comparison, but just what did you like about the, the experiences you've.

[00:22:39] Brian: I, I think you kind to answer that question. I think it really kind of helps to kind of dive a little bit into my own growing up and maturing psychologically, I guess, you know, thinking back to kind of myself in high school, college, very much a, um, I don't say know-it-all, smart ass. Probably a more appropriate here, right?

[00:22:56] Brian: I'm determined to be kind of like the Dr. House, uh, person where I know it on because I'm right. You have to listen to me. Very authorian style, right. Working with, uh, women managers, you see how they interact, how they push back, and also how they listen, how they kind of listen to what your concerns are, what people or whoever they might, whoever they might be interacting with, might be concerned about and how they're solving those problems.

[00:23:17] Brian: Uh, and you find very, very quickly that, you know, by being able to active, listen, be able to kind of take in and hearing things echoing concerns. Be able to get progress a lot further, not just in your career, but also interpersonally among other teams, other people you might have to work with. No one can really kind of be a silo in the workforce and just input output all day without having to deal with anybody.

[00:23:36] Brian: You have to deal with people, uh, and having that strong focus on not only people relationships, but also how do I engage with them interpersonally in a soft skills level was really valuable for helping me grow and mature as a, as a person as well. And it's something I really kind of enjoyed over the, the.

[00:23:52] Chris: Very cool. And I, I'm guessing you've taken some of that into your own management style at this point, or, or has it rubbed off?

[00:23:58] Brian: Uh, yeah. You know, asking people around how can I help them? How are you best enabled? How do you prefer to be interactive with, you know, it's, um, exposing some sort of sensitivities to kind of what their concerns and their preferred management methods.

[00:24:09] Brian: I still only have the ways that I like to lead teams, very SSI fair, but I jump in when I need to some basic standard for reporting. But like, how do you like to learn? How do you like to be educated? Do you want. Weekly calls. Do you want me to be in front of your face? Do you want me to check in constantly or you prefer me just to, you know, be hands off, leave you alone, uh, and then swo in when you feel like you might need me, depending upon where they are in the role or how they like to engage, I like to kinda ask them these questions and how I can best support them, and that's been really kind of a great way to approach this in my own management style.

[00:24:37] Zoe: Yeah, I love that. I, it took me a very, very long time before I was asked that question in my career. And I never, I always thought there was something wrong with me because I had struggled. I, I struggled managing upwards. It was very difficult, and I always felt like I clearly was doing something wrong because I didn't get the assurances that I was doing it right in the way that I needed to.

[00:24:59] Zoe: and it took me until somebody asked me, you know, what, what are your values and behaviors? How can you measure your success? And how can I help you see where you're succeeding or help you, uh, improve in other areas? And, uh, I think that's very important. A key part of a manager is being able to apply that but also, Taking the time to recognize that people are different and so the way that they need to be managed is going to be different as well.

[00:25:24] Zoe: So I really like those points that you made. 

[00:25:26] Brian: I think you bring up a good point too also, is that you as an employee, it's also really good. Just ask, sometimes people might be oblivious to what your needs might be. Specifically, I would like to have, you know, biweekly check-ins to kind of know, am I performing the right way?

[00:25:39] Brian: And if I need the change, I will let you know that. You know, and the check-ins might be, Hey, you're doing great. I love what you're doing. Keep going down this route. Or maybe minor justments, like, Hey, you focused more on documentation. Let's review some calls that you just did. I would like you to change some of your language on improve it.

[00:25:53] Brian: Or maybe you say you're bringing something to your manager of, Hey, I didn't feel like this was right. I didn't feel like it. Right. Can you review this with me? I would like some feedback. Don't be afraid to kind ask, but also don't have that expectation on yourself that your manager will just tell you everything you need to do.

[00:26:06] Brian: Your managers are busy, they're dealing with a million different things. Sometimes you are just unfortunately not top of. and by being able to be comfortable enough in your own skin to ask is, is a tough lesson to learn, but also a valuable skill to have to be your own champion as well within the organization.

[00:26:20] Brian: Uh, I always look very, very fairly on people who can kind of tell me what they need or if they tell me also the rest, like, Hey, I don't respond well to that Brian, I would prefer we kinda went this way. I greatly appreciate that type of feedback cuz it helps me work with my team better. 

[00:26:32] Zoe: Yeah, totally.

[00:26:33] Zoe: Totally. I had one question that is completely different. Uh, so no segueway, but it's one that insecurity you do see a lot of, and a lot of people that haven't done it before don't really know where to start. I don't have any experience working in America in the US so I don't have experience with this, but I saw that you have dealt with clearance.

[00:26:55] Zoe: Uh, or Lisa, that's how I'm reading it. I do know there are certain roles that require clearance. So could you give from an external perspective, kind of for somebody that has no experience with that, what's the process there? Is that something that's quite difficult to get and is it, is it something realistically a lot of people should be considering?

[00:27:14] Zoe: I don't know. 

[00:27:15] Brian: So the first thing is, uh, even in, in the UK and England, you can't just go ahead and say, request, I would like clearance. There's a concept that they're called a need to know. Meaning you have to be a part of a job or part of a position that's gonna have access information to be granted that clearance in the first place.

[00:27:30] Brian: The second part is there's a lot of varying degrees in specialty sectors of clearance levels from public trust to secret to top secret to even beyond, uh, special compartmentalized information around success. So energies of one that has very popular or not very popular, but uh, a common subset of their own clearances and evaluations really look and.

[00:27:50] Brian: If I share this information with you, uh, are you a risk of linking it? Are you a risk of exposing it? Are you risk to the government, whether it's, you know, United States or another one of engaging in that? And sometimes there are reciprocities of clearances where their employees of, um, the US government who being work and support you, Australian government as well, uh, they would recognize that type of thing with friendlies.

[00:28:10] Brian: I wouldn't say something that's mandatory, even though I spent almost a decade in the federal space, uh, supporting. Companies. I had a variety of clearances. I like to joke for, uh, my lanyard that I used to wear. You know, I looked like a, a rapper with amount of, you know, tokens and cat cards and IDs, and I can get into any building in Washington, DC with it.

[00:28:32] Brian: While it was kind of fun and a great learning experience to do that, it's very much burdened down with peoples and processing a lot of the slowdowns you kind of expect with, with working with federal or government type of projects. I think it's geographically based too. You know, if you work in a center where it's heavily government based, so Washington DC of course, you know, everywhere we have a, we call 'em Beltway Bandits, where they are all supporting government contracts where a good portion of the jobs are government based, where you would need a clearance.

[00:28:56] Brian: So if you're looking to kind of go down that route, it, you can apply for jobs that were required. And often the job description, it will tell you they will sponsor you for a clearance. Often it's easier to kind of start off at a lower. Looking for like a public trust or a secret cause those are very easy to get, uh, and great for starting the process was really simple.

[00:29:12] Brian: Things that are like top secret and higher. You, you need to be kind of in the system and transitioning into those projects to kinda really kinda be conservative, already have a top secret form another project or something like that. I didn't like the work. Uh, some people love the work. Some people love federal jobs.

[00:29:27] Brian: Uh, really kinda up to you. So just be honest with yourself about what kind of type of work and people you wanna do or engage with. Um, I have found myself kind of concerning going back to federal work sometimes purely just cause it's a different style, different position. As I grow a family, I may want to have that style down the line, but um, I really do love the startup life, so I don't think I'll see myself doing that.

[00:29:45] Chris: Awesome. Well, that is about all the time we have for today. Brian. Thank you for sharing your story with the Imposter Syndrome Network today. And thank you to all of the imposters tuning in. We really appreciate you spending your time and attention with us every. If you enjoyed the show, please consider sharing it with a friend, a family member, or a colleague who you think it might inform or inspire.

[00:30:08] Chris: And feel free to link up with us on your favorite social media platform. If you can't find us, uh, just let us know. Before we shut down the recording though, Brian, I am curious, what would you consider the most valuable lesson you've learned in your career so far?

[00:30:22] Brian: Ooh, that's a really good question. One piece of advice I'd like to give people is never be the person to tell yourself "no."

[00:30:28] Brian: So what I mean by that is don't say I can't apply for that job. Cause I don't have all the recs. Don't be the person to say, I can't ask for this. Don't be the person to say I can't do something. If you want to go do something, go for it. And you might be rejected at the end of the day. But the valuable point here is that you are able to go do it.

[00:30:44] Brian: And more often than not, you may actually be a surprise. Yes. And so you may actually be accepted for that role except for that promotion. Except for that job. Except for that pivot. Whatever it might be that you might be caring about. But never be the person to tell yourself No, it's. Single piece of advice I would tell people.

[00:30:58] Chris: Yeah, I like that a lot. And I think that is kind of in line with, with some other, you know, advice we've gotten from other folks. I know, and it kind of ties back into what you said earlier about, you know, kind of speaking up, telling your manager what you want, what you need. I think they're related anyway, if not exactly the same thing 

[00:31:13] Brian: a little bit.

[00:31:14] Brian: Uh, some ones being your own self-advocate, which is a little bit different versus one, you know, that little voice in your head saying, I can do this. I can't do this. You know, I, I want people feel driven to kind of pursue what they want. Sure they may get their hands slapped or tell to go back. You know, at least you're going back with feedback.

[00:31:28] Brian: What do I need to improve on? What am I missing? What do I need to study or focus on our practice, whatever it may be. Right? You get that feedback so you're growing in a positive direction. You're always taking steps forward. 

[00:31:38] Chris: Very cool. Thanks. Do you have any projects, uh, you're working on that you'd like the Imposter Network to know about or?

[00:31:44] Chris: If not, or even if so, you know, where can people reach out if, uh, if, uh, they wanna maybe start a conversation or chat with you further? 

[00:31:50] Brian: Yeah, so projects, fun stuff right here. I just finished reading a great book. Oh shoot, who was it? Chris Voss uh, hostage, negotiator for fbi and how you interact with people.

[00:32:00] Brian: I actually thought, you know, the same technique practices around how you handle with hostages is great for communication styles as well, especially as you enter difficult, conversations. Which happens in tech, you know, around, uh, the server broke. I don't know why. Right? You echo feeling she responded the right way.

[00:32:15] Brian: It's also been really great with, uh, helping me communicate my wife a little bit better. Cause sometimes I feel like a hostage. In terms of projects, you know, uh, professionally we've really been working on, uh, a lot of this core identity stuff. Uh, Gartner's been really great to us recently around announcing a new category around ITDR, identity, threat detection, response, and QOMPLX myself, been really building products into that space for a number of years.

[00:32:35] Brian: So we're really looking to expanding the market, expanding this new identity centric security mindset for a lot of folks can really kind of take this product out there. So having a lot of fun building that and bringing it to market.

[00:32:45] Chris: Awesome. That is great. And we will be back next week. 

[00:32:50] Brian: Awesome. Well, thank you for having me, Chris.